Building an HR Strategy from Scratch: Lee's Marketplace
How do we align the HR strategy with the business strategy?
“In 1981 Lee and Shari Badger had their start in the grocery business by purchasing a small grocery store in Smithfield called Jack's Foodtown. Over the next few years, the store was remodeled several times, finally doubling in size by 1991. After 13 years and with this new location, Lee and Shari dropped the name of Jack's Foodtown and began the legacy of Lee's Marketplace. Now in seven locations with plans underway for even more, Lee's Marketplace still offers the quality, freshness, and made-from-scratch promise that it has been and is still known for.”
Aligned with Lee’s Legacy, the company’s business strategy is centered on six principles. These principles include maintaining competitive pricing, championing a safe and friendly shopping experience, remaining technologically innovative, fostering continual learning, providing excellent customer service, and holding strong to Lee’s legacy.
When our team first met with the Director of Human Resources at Lee’s Marketplace, we learned that while Lee’s has a well-rounded business strategy it was difficult to put into words and fully understand as a holistic strategy. Our team was tasked with assisting with creating an HR strategy and offering advice on how to improve current HR processes. We were asked to consult on improving turnover, talent management, leadership development, total rewards, and organization strategy.
Our team began by crafting a visual representation of the business strategy. The importance of this step lies in the critical nature of aligning the HR strategy with the business strategy. In order to do so, we MUST clearly understand the business strategy.
We then focused on the HR implications of the business strategy. We identified critical HR elements within each of the six business strategy principles. We were then able to offer advice for developing a stronger HR department.
Next, we researched relevant trends in the industry. This helped inform decisions regarding talent needs, barriers to recruiting, retention, compensation, and benefits.
We also focused on reaching out to current employees to understand the working environment and their needs. This helped us gain a fundamental understanding of how we could make a lasting impact by solving problems employees were facing directly.
Recommendations: What Can We Learn from This Example?
We came up with many recommendations. Outlined here is a synopsis of our recommendations and how they can be applicable to nearly any organization:
There is not one way of management turnover. Every company should assess its process and find a solution that best fits the organization. However, with that being said here are some best practices that are being implemented in more successful companies that seem to have lower attrition.
Seek out talent that fit with the culture of the organization, not for the sake of your own culture, but for your employees. New hires that feel like they belong at your organization are more likely to stay.
Create an environment for dialogue and change. Employees who feel seen, heard, and understood are more likely to stay loyal to the organization. Therefore, companies that seek employee feedback and make proper changes tend to have better turnover rates.
Create different paths for career growth. This can be hard for grocery stores, like in this example, but employees must know they have opportunities to make their jobs into careers regardless of the organization.
invest in technology that helps with recruiting better talent for the company. Technology that makes both employee's work easier and helps you make more data-driven decisions.
Get leadership on board. Teach your leadership team about why they should invest in retention. Use numbers and the business strategy to convey your critical message.
Use Data for Decision Making
There are many different ways for a company to implement big data in the HR processes, the most important process is aligning data usage with the company strategy.
Train employees on the importance of trusting data to make decisions.
Understand what you're trying to improve before looking at the data.
Seek a holistic point of view. Look at the big picture.
Make sure that you are asking the right questions.
Embrace the idea that your initial ideas may be wrong.
Succession Planning and Employee Development
There are two questions that are critical to ask when focusing on succession planning and employee development: How do we identify talent potential? What do we look for in talent potential? Here are some recommendations for identifying and training top talent.
Trust employee recommendations.
Gather insights through one-on-one communication with leaders and frontline employees.
Identify potential through performance evaluations and employee surveys.
Teach with learning and development programs.
Recruiting and the hiring process can both be incredibly tedious. To improve your processes, ask yourself the following questions:
Who are the employees we need to hire?
What do we absolutely need? Where can we compromise to open doors of opportunity?
What do we currently look for in candidates? Can we widen or narrow our parameters?
When and where do we reach our desired applicants?
What sets us apart as a great place to work? What is our employee value proposition?
How will we know if our approach is working?
Additional recommendations were given to the organization that were specific to their needs and more confidential in nature.